"Can I help you, young Padawan?" the Jedi Master asked calmly as the panting child glanced up at him. "I assume it's quite urgent, as you nearly broke down my door."
He wore a smile on his handsome face, dark waves of hair covering part of it, while his eyes, as red as rubies, glinted with amusement.
"Yes Master Thantos," the child panted. "A transmission has come through for you in the Communications Hall. Master Kolar believed it to be quite important."
"I see," Thantos replied, "I'm on my way now. You may return to your duties."
The Padawan bowed respectfully and darted away, as Thantos headed in the opposite direction. His feet thudded gently against the carpeted floor as he walked, and his robe swished. When he reached the Communications Hall, Master Kolar -a rather blunt Nabrak - nodded at him and poined to one of the private comm rooms. The door hissed shut behind Thantos as he took his seat and pressed the flashing button. A woman flickered into existence on the table. She was tall, but not much else could be deciphered about her, as she wore a voluminous cloak, the hood covering most of her face.
"Thantos. At last." The woman's voice was relieved, and Thantos straightened in his chair.
"Moirae! Is that you?" he asked in surprise. The hooded woman's head inclined in a nod.
"Of course," she said mildly, before her tone became brisk. "I don't have time to exchange pleasantries, old friend. I bring grave news from our home."
Thantos' heart filled with dread.
"What has happened?" he asked in alarm. Moirae shook her head.
"There is a rebellion," she replied quietly. "Sethu and the others fear the worst. And-" she paused. "Our Queen has perished."
Thantos swore softly, letting his head land with a soft 'thump' on the table.
"How?" he asked, his voice muffled. Moirae shifted, clearly uncomfortable.
"A riding accident," she replied eventually. "She was returning to the palace in Aquaine, and took a short-cut through the moors. She was thrown from her horse - they didn't find her until morning."
"I see," Thantos answered quietly.
"The Princess lives," Moirae volunteered. "She has been kept safe from these bloody battles, and is residing happily in Valos."
Thantos barely dared to hope.
"She is safe?" he asked cautiously, lifting his head from the table.
"For the moment," Moirae answered, "This is why I have contacted you, my friend. Valos is untouched at the moment, but the rebels of Bahralt are sweeping towards the West. We cannot keep her there any longer."
"And what could I do?" Thantos asked reasonably. "Arryn is quite some distance away, Moirae, and Jedi are not soldiers, merely keepers of the peace."
"I know, my friend, which is why the King has a proposal," she replied patiently. "The Princess and several handmaidens would go to Coruscant and be protected there until these skirmishes end - one way or another. After that, we will decide on another course of action."
Thantos pursed his lips for a moment.
"Which handmaidens?" he asked, his eyes narrowed. "We cannot allow a spy to slip through the net."
"I will pick them myself," Moirae assured, "And I will be among them, of course, as soon as the necessary arrangements have been made."
"Very well," Thantos agreed after a moment, "I will make your request to the Council, and return with their reply as soon as I can."
"Thank you," Moirae breathed, dipping her head. "I hope to see you soon, my friend."
Thantos dipped his head also, as the holoform flickered and died.
"I understand your concern, Master Thantos," Master Windu said, steeling his long brown fingers, "But we cannot spare any Jedi to go to Arryn and protect this princess."
"I ask not for a Jedi to travel to Arryn, Master Windu," Thantos replied, his shaking hands hidden in his sleeves while his voice remained calm, "I realise that it is rather far way. Instead, I ask that the princess be brought to Coruscant and protected here."
Windu paused, considering.
"And if they were brought here, then what?" Ziverri questioned, his golden eyes narrowed, "Do you presume that we will keep her near us at all times? Think logically, Thantos. She could bring her war here, disrupting the peace we've fought so hard to keep - spilling innocent blood!"
"By the Force, she will not!" Thantos snapped. Thump. Yoda's cane banged against the floor.
"Young Padawans you are not," he scolded, "Solution to this mess must we find."
"I apologize, Master Yoda," Ziverri said shortly, bowing his head, "It is not my place to decide such matters."
"No, it isn't," Windu interjected smoothly.
"I concur with Master Thantos' earlier statement," Ki-Adi-Mundi piped up. "The princess could stay in the city, and someone could be appointed as her caretaker while here. I doubt she will cause too much trouble."
"She does have lodging here," Thantos said eagerly, "In 500 Republica, if I remember correctly."
"Agree with this proposal, I do," Yoda croaked. "Master Windu?"
All eyes in the chamber rested on the Korun Jedi Master, who sighed and nodded.
"Very well," he replied eventually. "Find a Jedi who will be amiable to this assignment, and reply to your contact, Thantos. This meeting is adjourned until then."
Thantos relaxed almost visibly, while in his chair, Ki-Adi-Mundi sat, an idea forming in his head.
"I simply cannot do it, my friend," Qui-Gon Jinn replied patiently as he carefully watched Obi-Wan Kenobi - now a Jedi Knight - train his Padawan.
"Qui-Gon," Ki-Adi-Mundi said carefully, "You would be the best candidate for this assignment." Qui-Gon sighed and turned to argue with his stubborn friend, but Ki-Adi held up a hand. "Please, hear me. I realise what happened last year has taken it's toll on you, but you must move on. You go to counselling and refuse to speak a word." Qui-Gon closed his eyes and sighed deeply, something that had become a habit of late. He gave one final push. "Why not take on this assignment, Qui-Gon? Just until you're finished with your rehabilitation. I doubt the princess will be the adventurous type."
Qui-Gon waved a hand at him.
"Very well, Ki-Adi," he murmured, opening his eyes, "I will accept this assignment."
"Are you sure about this, Master Qui-Gon?" Windu asked, his eyes boring into the Jedi before them.
"I assure you, I have thought about this proposal thoroughly, and I have chosen to accept," Qui-Gon said quietly, his voice echoing in the large, airy room. "I will protect the princess of Arryn. I will do everything in my power to ensure her safety."
Muted shock rippled through the room. No-one had even entertained the thought that Qui-Gon Jinn would have undertaken this mission. The last mission with the Queen Amidala of Naboo had, as most believed, aged him beyond his years. Apparently not.
"Honourable, your request is," Yoda agreed, "And granted, it also is."
Qui-Gon Jinn bowed, then limped from the room, his Force signature lined with pain. Master Yoda leaned back in his chair as the talks around him resumed.
In much pain you are, young Qui-Gon. Yoda's brow wrinkled further in worry. Hope I that this mission will ease your suffering.